Monday, June 13, 2016

FedEx’s Dan Thompson wins Alabama driver safety contest

Dan Thompson, a veteran professional truck driver for FedEx Freight’s terminal near Mobile, won the Alabama Trucking Association’s State Truck Driving Championships’ Overall Champion award, Friday, June 10 at the Pelham Civic Complex in Pelham, Ala. The award is sponsored by Birmingham Freightliner.

Thompson and nearly 100 other Alabama-based truck drivers representing two dozen trucking firms, competed at the annual event. The Alabama TDC is produced by the Association’s Safety & Maintenance Management Council (SMMC), a subgroup of the Association composed of fleet safety managers and fleet vehicle maintenance supervisors. (Check out this great video from the event)

The competition’s main purpose is to showcase professional truck drivers’ skill and commitment to workplace and highway safety. It also serves as a qualifier for the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships scheduled for later this summer in Indianapolis, Ind.

Competitors are scored on a written exam covering driver safety and industry best practices; a pre-trip vehicle defect inspection; and vehicle obstacle course, where contestants navigate a truck and trailer through a series of obstacles. At the end of the competition, contestants’ cumulative scores are ranked, and winners from nine categories are announced at an awards dinner later that evening. The three highest scorers from each class receive trophies and prizes, and special awards also given for the event’s top rookie and highest score for the vehicle defects inspection.

Other class winners were Chason Norris of FedEx Express (Step Van); Thomas Garner, FedEx Freight (Tank Truck); Tim Staples, FedEx Freight (Flatbed); Michael Umphrey, XPO Logistics (3-Axle Van); Steven Brannen, Wal-Mart Transportation (4-Axle Van); Mark Knight, AAA Cooper Transportation (5-Axle Van); Darryl Dodd, Wal-Mart Transportation; (Sleeper Berth); and Darrell Kimbrell, FedEx Freight (Twins). Thompson won the Straight Truck class.

Meanwhile, Kevin Hunter of FedEx Ground posted the highest score in the Vehicle Defects portion of the contest, and Michael Schrader of AAA Cooper Transportation earned the award for the highest scoring Rookie.

To qualify for the state competition, a driver must be employed by a member company of the Association and have had no accidents for the previous 12 months. Some competitors are handpicked by their supervisors for overall experience and work ethic, while others win company competitions.

While not a record, SMMC officials said this year’s event attracted more drivers than more recent years, but the spectators and attendance for the awards ceremony has grown tremendously. Officials said the event drew an estimated 750 to 1,000 spectators, volunteers and contest officials and the awards dinner banquet drew more than 300 (which is an event record).

“This event keeps getting better and better,” said ATA Director of Safety & Member Services Tim Frazier. “Our safety council does an outstanding job planning and executing these contests. We are most grateful to all the volunteers and sponsors of the event. Without their support we couldn’t pull off an event of this magnitude.”